This post is devoted to the question of where Jimmy Rollins should bat in the lineup. First, we will summarize his recent offensive success, or lack thereof. Next, we will explore his prior slumps to see whether we can draw a conclusion to the question of whether he is in just another slump. Finally, we will do an experiment to determine what would happen should he stay as in the lineup at the number two hitter.
So far in the Dodgers 2015 season, Rollins has played in 27 of 28 games. He has hit three home runs with 11 RBI’s and 12 runs scored. But his BA/OBP/SLG/OPS is just .162/.246/.305/.551. When he came to us, we knew he was not a stellar hitter, with a career average of .267 and OBP of .327 in fifteen years with the Phillies. Yet he had slugged 216 homers with Philadelphia, so we said, “hey, he’s got some pop!”. Well, he’s still got some pop, but he just is not getting on base nor moving runners along enough to warrant the number two slot in the lineup.
Is this just a normal slump? He’s hitting just .162 in his first 118 Dodger plate appearances. Did that ever happen before? Here are his worst ever months with the Phillies, in terms of batting averages (I picked only those below the Mendoza line and at least 100 plate appearances):
Aug 2013 .190 / Jun 2010 .182 / June 2009 .167 / Aug 2005 .188 / Jul 2002 .160 / Sep-Oct 2002 .194
So he’s obviously had some months in his career that are as bad or nearly as bad as his current slump. Then the question becomes, will he come out of this slump? That’s the $64 question. In my opinion, the Dodgers have plenty of other options to put into the top part of the lineup. Would that be an ego-deflator for Rollins? Possibly, but (a) he is 36 years old and (b) he is likely to be replaced in 2016 by a much younger Corey Seager.
Now let’s turn to our experiment. Just for fun, let’s say that Rollins was the #2 hitter in yesterday’s final game of the series at Miller Park against the Milwaukee Brewers. We’ll just replace Grandal’s six plate appearances with Jimmy Rollins’ most recent six plate appearances. For now, we’ll ignore the fact that Grandal is a catcher and Rollins is a shortstop, since we are just looking at the offensive production aspect. Here’s what would have happened:
Inning 1. Pederson strikes out. Rollins Home Run. Kendrick groundout. Gonzalez strike out. Dodgers 1-0.
Inning 2. Guerrero Home Run. Ethier lineout. Uribe strikeout. Hernandez Popfly. Dodgers 2-1.
Inning 3. Frias strikeout. Pederson walks. Rollins Groundout to 1b, fielders choice – Pederson out at 2B. Kendrick Single to RF, Rollins to 3B. Gonzalez Single to CF, Rollins scores, Kendrick to 3B. Guerrero flyball out. Dodgers 3-1.
Inning 4. Ethier lineout to CF (no intentional walk, so use his most recent plate appearance prior to this game). Uribe strike out. Hernandez strike out. Dodgers 3-1.
Inning 5. Frias strike out. Pederson strike out. Rollins Groundout to 2B. Dodgers 3-3.
Inning 6. Kendrick lineout to RF. Gonzalez groundout to 3B. Guerrero walk. Ethier triple, scores Guerrero. Uribe Single to CF, scores Ethier. Hernandez Double to CF/RF, Uribe to 3B. Turner groundout. Dodgers 5-3.
Inning 7. Pederson walks (no intentional walk, so use his most recent plate appearance prior to this game). Rollins groundout to 1B, Pederson forceout at 2B. Kendrick ground ball double play 2B-SS-1B. Dodgers 5-3.
Inning 8. Gonzalez groundout to 1B. Guerrero HBP. Ethier groundout 2B-SS, Guerrero forced out. Uribe flyball out to LF. Dodgers 5-3.
Inning 9. Hernandez Single to CF. Heisey walks, Hernandez to 2B. Pederson strikes out. Rollins groundout to 1B, Hernandez to 3B, Heisey forced out 1B to 2B. Kendrick walks, bases loaded. Gonzalez flyball out to CF. Dodgers 5-4.
So the Dodgers would have won a close game by a score of 5 to 4. No harm no foul? Well, perhaps you don’t mind scoring five runs rather than scoring fourteen runs. For me, I don’t want to see Rollins batting second anytime soon. Should he be batting eighth? Should he be in the lineup at all? So far in May, his batting average is .083. If he finishes May below the Mendoza line, then Corey Seager should playing shortstop for the Dodgers on June 1st.